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Mo. unrest raises question of C.O. police weapons

By Katie Higgins
Published On: Aug 15 2014 09:40:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 17 2014 01:41:47 AM CDT

NewsChannel 21's Katie Higgins finds out how much military style weaponry Deschutes Co. has.

BEND, Ore. -

Riots in Ferguson, Missouri have the social media world in a tizzy. The subject of all the talk is militarized local police forces. Many are arguing about why police have the equipment they do -- and whether or not they should.

Much of the weaponry is obtained through a free program through the Department of Defense. The program offers surplus military items to local law enforcement.

The Defense Department sent NewsChannel 21 a full list of military surplus in the state. In Deschutes Co., the data shows 40 rifles. 32 of them are 5.56 mm and eight of them are 7.62 mm. The data also shows items like grenade launchers, military style vehicles, and more.

"We've never seen those kinds of issues here," Nick Parker with the Bend police department.

Law enforcement isn't taking any chances though.
    
"That's not to say that our agency isn't going to prepare for the worst," Parker said.

Data released by the New York Times today says Deschutes Co., has 80 assault rifles. That's different than the information released by the Department of Defense.

"You know night vision, and we have vehicles that are reinforced and extra body protection for those kinds of things," Parker said.

Parker says it's to protect the force and the community if a dangerous situation arises.

"From the Bend Police Department standpoint, we're going to work on defusing problems," Parker said.

If they can't, they have a plan.

"You know the Oregon State Police, we have an agreement with them," Parker said. "They have a team that trains more specifically for this they have that expertise."

Parker says police officers aren't using this equipment on a daily basis, if at all. Teams like SWAT and CERT are trained to use the weapons.

"They have training above and beyond what I would have or a patrol officer," Parker said.

Bend's never had to fall back on its weapons stock, but that doesn't mean they're not ready.

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